Earlier this month Kai Lenny, who also competes on the WSL Big Wave Tour, set the official record for the Maui-to-Molokai paddleboard race on a 27-mile course through the Pailolo Channel. The race has earned a reputation of being one of the most tedious in the world, pushing it's competitors to the brink of exhaustion. The 25-year-old didn't seem too fazed - competing on a foil in the the men's 19-to-29 division.
World Surf League: Have you ever done Maui to Molokai before on a foil or other surf craft?
Kai Lenny: I have been doing crossings between Maui and Molokai since I was 9 years old. From windsurfing, Kitesurfing, to SUP, this was my first time doing it on a Foil in a race. My goal was clear from the beginning, to do it faster then any other craft that doesn't have a motor or sail.
What kind of equipment were you using?
I rode a custom board by Keith Taboul that was 5'8", a Quatro paddle, and the Foil I used was the MFC Hawaii HYDROS 1250. I also used a Dakine Hydration backpack.
Was there any unexpected challenges and/or moments during your performance?
In the channel the swells can be really big, up to double over head and then the same channel can go flat. So it takes ocean knowledge, good endurance and constant focus. The water is the deepest blue and nearly purple color since it is thousands of feet deep. For me this time it was really about picking the Foil that would give me the best performance for the conditions. When you look at the channel it's almost impossible to fully know what's out there, so you need to be adaptable to whatever happens.
When did the event take place and what was your record?
July 14th, the race started at 9:30 am. My record is 2:17:18
How did you celebrate?
The scene of these races are so grassroots and I think that's what makes it so awesome. There was a cool awards on Molokai with all the competitors and then the punishing trip home crossing the channel on our escort boat in 30 mph wind and huge swell. The way I celebrated was doing part of the channel crossing again because the conditions were so good!